I recently joined the 40% of Americans who now own an Air Fryer. I became intrigued by the machine’s claim that it could make healthier French fries. Possessing only mediocre knife skills, I got the idea to look for a French fry cutter. 

When my search on Amazon resulted in 765 results, I soon realized that it might have been easier and faster to cut the potatoes myself by hand. Scrolling through pages and pages of varied models of French fry cutters, I weighed a sea of choices. Here’s a glimpse of the options I found:

  • Plastic models versus stainless-steel commercial models
  • Prices ranging from $19.99 to $109.00
  • 4-star good reviews to 5-star fantastic (but questionable in authenticity) reviews
  • Manual versus electric models
  • Horizontal versus vertical models
  • Counter-mount with suction cups versus no-mount models

Overwhelmed with too many choices, I got out of the search altogether by asking for a French fry cutter for Christmas instead. In a classic case of avoidance/procrastination, I secretly hoped that someone else could make the decision for me. 

A World of Choice Overload

I confess that one of my biggest timewasters used to be how much time I spend researching when making purchases, especially online ones. It was easy to fall into a rabbit hole and not come back out.

We all love the fantastic choices offered to us in an ever-increasingly advanced world, but more choices also demand more time and energy. We can now pick from a plethora of options in what we buy, wear, cook, eat out, drive, and watch for entertainment. We can choose how much we pay and when we get it. 

Then there’s the bigger questions of where we live, send our children to school, attend church, and travel. For some of us in the post-Covid-19 economy, we now ponder when and where we work remotely, whether to work for an employer or for ourselves, and whether we pursue financial security or our passion.

The list is endless.

Maximizers Versus Satisficers

In Barry Schwartz’s book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, he describes the overwhelm we feel by all the choices we are offered in our modern-day society. He argues that instead of increasing our sense of well-being, an overabundance of choice in Western society is raising our levels of anxiety, doubt, discontent—and lost time.

In his book, Schwartz describes two types of consumers, maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers try to make the most optimal decision when making purchases, which may mean evaluating all the choices exhaustively. 

Satisficers (which comes from the words satisfy and suffice) makes purchases based on what adequately meets their requirements. According to Schwartz, “To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better.” In other words, satisficers don’t experience FOMO.

The Case for Satisficing

If we feel overwhelmed and pressed for time in our everyday lives, one way of creating time is to limit our choices, even as the number of choices proliferate around us. 

Matthew 13:22 describes the spiritual dangers of getting too caught up in everyday decision-making: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful”(NIV).  

The time and energy spent overanalyzing the things of this world distracts us from God and His Kingdom, sapping our ability to grow spiritually. Limiting our choices removes the extra thorns in our lives, allowing us to recover precious time for ourselves, our relationships, and God. It gives us room to focus on Him and become spiritually fruitful. 

If more time spent researching choices resulted in more contentment, we might justify the extra time and energy as being worth it. But studies show that maximizers tend to be less satisfied with their final choice than someone who did less research.

In their quest for seeking out the best, they can end up focusing not on what they have, but what they might have had. Ironically, buyer’s remorse is the outcome they were seeking to avoid in the first place.

Choosing Contentment Instead

The real reason we over-research our choices is that we fear making the wrong decision, even if it’s just a French fry cutter.

As finite humans in an increasingly complex world, however, we will never be able to evaluate all the options. Ultimately, the search for the perfect item is a futile pursuit. It’s a form of placing our hopes in the things of this world—or in our limited ability to make a perfect decision. 

The apostle Paul writes, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6 NLT). Learning to be content with “good enough” helps us loosen the grip that possessions can hold over us. We cease to pin our happiness on earthly things that cannot deliver. 

We essentially say to God, “I choose not to worship the gifts—or my ability to choose rightly—but I trust You instead. I choose to be content with what I have.” We declare that “good enough” is, indeed, good enough.

12 Ways of Saving Time When Shopping

Regardless of our natural disposition, we can all benefit from adopting a more satisficing approach to decision-making. Embracing the “good enough” standard has helped me simplify life and free up time and energy. It can help you, too. 

Here are 12 practical ideas to help you get started:

1. Limit the amount of time devoted to shopping for an online item, including reading reviews. Train yourself to choose among the first couple of pages of listings. Set a timer if needed. Know when to call it quits. (The same goes for in-store purchases.)

2. Determine your favorite brands and stick to those brands. If you like an item, reorder the exact same product the next time. Make a Frequently Bought/Buy Again list in your online accounts, so that you can re-order easily.

3. If you find an article of clothing that you like and fits you well, buy more than one color.

4. Opt for the simpler version of an item, rather than the one with all the bells and whistles. Practice not always getting the most optimized version. Complicated is not always better.

5. Unless money is tight, accept that it’s okay not to find the very best deal all the time. Your time and energy are just as important as the 50 cents that you save.

6. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it or buy a new one. 

7. Buy something when you need it, not when you see an ad for it.

8. Let go of the notion of the “perfect” item. Aim for 80%, rather than 100% perfection. It’s okay to settle when it comes to material possessions. 

9. If skimping on research is difficult for you, build your tolerance by doing minimal research on a small item ($10 or less). It will get easier.

10. If you experience buyer’s remorse, don’t give yourself the option to return it if it’s not exactly perfect. Learn to be content with it, even when it’s uncomfortable.

11. Prioritize people, experiences, and hobbies over possessions. When you don’t have the time to research, you won’t research as much.

12. Build your contentment muscle by focusing on what you have already chosen in the present, rather than what you might have chosen in the past.

Settling for “good enough” is a countercultural way of living, as it flies in the face of today’s mainstream consumeristic society where newer is always better. But using this kind of approach to life not only saves time, but it also saves energy and money, giving us much-needed breathing room in an overly busy life. 

Regardless of our current responsibilities, we can all reduce the level of complication in our lives. Being a satisficer is one of the single most impactful shifts in mindset that we can make to take back time. Give it a try today.

What ways do you already use to streamline your purchases? In what other ways could you adopt the “good enough” approach today?

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on decision-making. Don’t miss Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Reflection:

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. ” 1 John 2:15-16 (NLT)

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

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